Vitamin B

Briefly about vitamin B

  • Must be supplied through a richly varied diet and/or nutritional supplements.
  • There are eight different B-vitamins, all of which are necessary for the body’s functioning and they interact extensively with each other.
  • Most B-vitamins are sensitive to light, heat, and cooking, and have relatively poor absorption in the intestines.

Learn more about B vitamins

It’s true that the B-vitamins constitute a group of eight different water-soluble vitamins. Each of them has its specific functions and cannot replace each other in the body’s various processes. A common characteristic of the B-vitamins is that they are necessary for the activity of many enzymes in the body. They are also water-soluble, which means they are not stored in the body for extended periods, except for vitamin B12, which can be stored in the liver for up to three years.

Here are the eight B-vitamins and their chemical names:

  1. Thiamine (B1)
  2. Riboflavin (B2)
  3. Niacin (B3)
  4. Pantothenic Acid (B5)
  5. Pyridoxine (B6)
  6. Biotin (B7)
  7. Folic Acid (B9)
  8. Cobalamin (B12)

It’s becoming more common to use the chemical names for B-vitamins instead of their numerical designations in product ingredient lists. For example, “folic acid” is often used instead of “B9.”

What are B vitamins good for?

Most of the B-vitamins are involved in cellular energy and protein metabolism, nervous system development and function, and immune defense. The different B-vitamins have distinct roles and cannot replace each other; on the contrary, they work together. Collectively, they support optimal functioning of the body’s processes, including metabolism, the nervous system, the production of red blood cells, important components of cellular DNA, and cell division.

B-vitamins also influence the body’s ability to develop a healthy gut flora.

What can a lack of vitamin B mean?

B-vitamin deficiency can lead to fatigue, numbness, memory and concentration difficulties, problems with hair, skin, and nails, and more. Severe deficiency can result in pernicious anemia (blood deficiency) and neurological symptoms. Deficiency often develops gradually over several months, and stress, alcohol, birth control pills, antibiotics, and other medications can impair the absorption of B-vitamins and cause deficiency.

For pregnant women, a deficiency in folic acid, B9, is especially serious as it can cause fetal abnormalities. Older adults, vegans, and vegetarians are also at a particular risk group for B12 deficiency since it is only found in animal products. At the same time, B12 deficiency is one of the more common and serious deficiencies as B12 is necessary for the formation of red blood cells.

Research shows that various types of neurological problems and neuropsychiatric disabilities, such as ADHD, can be caused by B-vitamin deficiency.

How do we get vitamin B?

B-vitamins are found in many different types of food, especially in grain products and meat. One exception is B12, which is not present in any plant-based foods and can only be found in animal products. This means that vegans and vegetarians need to supplement their intake with B12. Additionally, B12, like many other B-vitamins, is very sensitive to heat and light.

The absorption of B-vitamins in the intestine is often poor and can be further impaired by an imbalanced gut flora. Stress, alcohol, birth control pills, antibiotics, and other medications also hinder absorption. Beer, which is brewed with yeast and grains, contains a significant amount of B-vitamins, but the alcohol in beer impairs its absorption, potentially leading to deficiency in the end.

Several B-vitamins can be synthesized in the intestine by a healthy gut flora, but it is unclear how much can be absorbed and utilized by the body.

A reliable way to ensure an adequate intake of all B-vitamins is through a B-vitamin complex supplement that includes all of them. It is especially important to ensure supplementation of B6, B9, and B12, but since all B-vitamins are needed and interact extensively, a B-complex supplement containing all eight B-vitamins can be beneficial.

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